Early Twentieth-Century Pianism in Music by Significant Russian and French Composers
Kim, En A
Gowen, Bradford P.
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In Western music history, the early twentieth century (1900-1945) was an age of fluctuation. A large number of distinctive stylistic trends, such as Impressionism, Neoclassicism, Mysticism, and Post-Romanticism, flourished in this era of change and growth. Despite these new trends, composers of the early twentieth century continued to exhibit common classical characteristics within the diversified new materials of each individual style. In addition, the composers thoroughly maximized the various effects derived from the piano itself with different approaches to touch, color, texture, and a fully broadened sound spectrum. The culmination of virtuosity and effectiveness in performance of the piano literature was thus greatly intensified and emphasized. Accordingly, works from this time period are generally marked by high technical demands, colorful melodies, rich harmonies, complex rhythms, and distinctive sonorities. During the early twentieth century, the main centers of musical innovation began to spread from Germany and Austria to other European countries such as France, Spain, Hungary, and Russia. In particular, the French and Russian styles of music during this period demonstrate numerous possibilities of pianistic sound through new technical and musical means. Among the abundant French and Russian repertoire of this era, the word “significant” allows us to narrow down the scope of the program to three dissertation recitals. Selecting significant composers in certain period is a subjective process; indeed, I have chosen composers considered either major or among the best-known, according to the accepted meaning. This dissertation was completed by performing selected works composed after 1900 by French composers Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) Claude Debussy (1862-1918), and Maurice Ravel (1875-1937); and Russian composers Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915), Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), and Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) in three recitals at the Gildenhorn Recital Hall in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center of the University of Maryland. Recordings of the recitals may be accessed through the University of Maryland Library System.